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Combat capability of Wagner PMC significantly decreases due to recruitment of prisoners – ISW

KYIV. Jan 24 (Interfax-Ukraine) – The excessive dependence of the private military company Wagner on the recruitment of prisoners from penal colonies has an increasing impact on its combat capability, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for January 23.

“Out of the assessed 50,000 prisoners that Wagner has recruited, only 10,000 are fighting on frontlines in Ukraine due to high casualty, surrender, and desertion rates. ISW cannot independently confirm these figures, but they are very plausible considering Wagner’s model of using convicts as cannon fodder in highly attritional offensive operations. The model Wagner has reportedly been using of retaining its highly trained long-serving mercenaries as leadership and Special Forces–type elements on top of a mass of untrained convicts also lends itself to high combat losses, surrenders, and desertions,” the analysts note.

At the same time, ISW report that the Wagner Group aim of reducing casualties among its non-convict mercenaries likely undermines its ability to retain and use effectively its large mass of convicts at scale and over time.

“It is suggested that Wagner lacks the basic administrative and bureaucratic infrastructure to track and present its own losses,” the report reads.